How to adjust your clutch with or without an adjustable clutch setup + how to install a firewall adjuster and clutch quadrant
Written by Jeremy Thompson, A.K.A. V8only
*Updated Jan 2008*
Index: (Click on link to go to that section)
3. How to adjust the factory self adjusting mechanism
4. Which clutch cable should I use
5. The real problem with adjustable clutch cables ****NEW JAN 08!!
6. Aftermarket clutch quadrants and firewall adjusters
7. How to install your clutch quadrant and firewall adjuster-***Includes removal of quadrant and pawl!!! ***NEW JAN 08
8. Proper clutch cable routing ***NEW!!
9. How to properly adjust your clutch
10. Final thoughts on aftermarket setups
11.Clutch quadrant and firewall adjuster shootout comparison
-Fiore Micro-Click **Updated info Jan 08
12. FWA/Quadrant rubs against SN95 Brake Booster in a Fox,...The Fix
***NEW!! Updates: As of Jan, 2008, I am revising this article only slightly. I have mastered a method for removing that small pawl. I wanted to share this with everyone, as it is a real pain to remove if you're not sure what is going on there. As well, in the recent past, Fiore has stopped making his quadrant and firewall adjuster. However, he passed the rights on to his friend. These are currently being offered for sale at www.lethalperformance.com. Note that the years say 94+ on that site, however I've used and tested them on Fox mustangs, and it works just fine. Joe Fiorentino approached me not too long ago to try out his setup, and comment on it. I immediately jumped on this, as his firewall adjuster was a completely different and exciting style I had not tried before. I will add, that I have no financial connection with Joe, and any information I give out is my honest non-biased opinion, as I don't make a dime off of this article, or anything he sells.
Note: Because there are a plethora of different combinations of aftermarket parts to be purchased, millions of different possible parts combinations, and different driving styles/demands, no particular setup can be generalized to work with "all" Mustangs. This article is simply an accumulation of my experiences to try and help my fellow stangers by providing enough knowledge to allow you to make an educated decision on your own as to making adjustments and which pieces to buy. I do NOT have any affiliation with any company, and I am not trying to sell any kind of adjustment kits with this article.
Check back often, as I have some pictures soon to post, and I constantly update this article as I learn more and more on the subject..
A very common problem for mustangs is the automatic adjusting clutch mechanism from the factory. The problem is that this system consists of two plastic quadrants that ratchet together underneath the dash. These two pieces are attached to 2 shafts that come off of the clutch pedal, and have teeth that engage each other. The clutch cable is attached to the plastic quadrant. In theory, the teeth engage each other at the right location and holds so that your clutch stays at that adjustment. The problem with this setup is that the teeth wear, causing the adjustment to slip and/or not grab at the right place. Additionally, the plastic quadrants tend to flex, especially with the addition of a heavy duty clutch. In extreme cases, I have even heard of the factory quadrants breaking.
Having a factory plastic quadrant setup that doesn't work properly can really harmful. Not only will it make driving really uncomfortable, but it can and will ruin your clutch, and your transmission, as well as cause serious headaches and financial loss. If you are not sure if your OEM quadrant has seen better days or is still ok, read on.
How to adjust the factory self adjusting mechanism
To adjust the factory self-adjusting mechanism, simply pull up on the clutch pedal with the toe of your shoe. You should hear or feel a click. Now press the clutch to the floor. This procedure disengages the teeth on the factory quadrant and resets them in the right place. Please keep in mind though that often, this procedure will not work properly any longer, and will result in a clutch that is still mal-adjusted. If performing the adjustment in this manner does not make a change to your satisfaction, the clutch is picking up right off the floor, or it gets worse, you need to get rid of that OEM setup. Keep reading.
Which clutch cable should I use?
Before I get further into the quadrant discussion, it is important to discuss a little about which type of clutch cable should be used. The bottom line is unfortunately the OEM cable is still the strongest built clutch cable on the market available for mustangs. This cable is now made in Taiwan, but it still boasts the same quality (surprisingly). Aftermarket cables such as the stock replacements that can be purchased at Auto Zone, and ALL adjustable type cables are simply not made to the same standards as the OEM non adjustable cables. Multiple problems could arise such as stretching (common) and binding. There is quite a bit of information about this on the internet. While an adjustable cable can ultimately provide more adjustability, my personal recommendation is to stay away from them and use the OEM non adjustable cable with a firewall adjuster. However, just to be fair, I have talked to numerous people who have never had a problem with the adjustable cables and swear buy them. In my opinion, if you already have one, and don't have any complaints, don't go out and spend money on an OEM cable unless you really need it. If your buying an aftermarket adjustable setup for the first time, and you don't have any cable issues, I would recommend keeping the stock cable already in your car. Maximum Motorsports talks about this very subject and why the adjustable cables are not as desirable.
If you need to purchase another OEM style cable, then purchase an original Ford cable, new or used. These are still made and available from Ford (at a significant cost) or many aftermarket companies offer this cable for around $30-$50. Some of these companies are Maximum Motorsports, Diversified, and Fortes, and 50resto.
If you've got aftermarket headers which are constantly melting your cables and causing issues, Maximum Motorsports recommend the use of an sn95 clutch cable. They state the sn95 cable is longer and you can route it further forward near the oil filter, which should get it away from the headers. As a final note on this, Maximum Motorsports offers a "universal" clutch cable. While I haven't tried this yet, it sells for a great price, and have so far heard good comments about it. That's about all I can comment on it though.
The real problem with adjustable clutch cables
Before recently, the real problem with adjustable cables
was always theory to me. I went along with mass opinion and assumed it was
due to cable build quality. I'm sure, in part that this is an issue, but
in my opinion, it's not the full story. Just a couple of months back, my
father and I picked an 86 SSP coupe. We got it for a killer deal. Of
course, with any deal comes a pile of work. The very first thing on the
list was a clutch cable and quadrant upgrade. I would have left well
enough alone, except that the stock quadrant wasn't adjusting any longer, and
the adjustment was way too loose to drive without ruining the clutch.
When I bought this SSP, it came with a Grip (BBK/Brothers) quadrant and
adjustable cable kit. This kit utilizes no firewall adjuster, however it was new in the box in the trunk. I
was hesitant to use this setup, as the Grip quadrant has a much longer radius to
it, much like the Ford Racing quadrant. This longer radius makes it only
useable with the adjustable cable, and NOT a firewall adjuster. I didn't
want to run an adjustable cable, so I dug into my spare stuff in my garage.
I came across an extra Fiore quadrant and firewall adjuster kit that I had, and
decided that I would install that instead. I installed the Fiore equipment
without any issues. However, upon re-installation, I noticed that my
original non-adjustable OEM cable was bad, and near the limits for snapping.
For this reason, I took the only option at hand. I installed the
adjustable cable that was NEW into the SSP. The first thing I noticed
after installing the adjustable cable was increased pedal effort. It
wasn't a small amount either. The difference was day and night...the
adjustable cable was MUCH MUCH more difficult to depress. Very stiff
pedal!! I had my father
drive it around like this for two days, before he called me and said that he
just didn't trust it. He said that he felt the the new adjustable cable
may be stretching, and furthermore, that he didn't trust it. I had him
come over, and I pulled the brand new OEM cable off of my 86 vert (since it's
not my DD any longer) and held the OEM and adjustable cable side by side.
I confirmed the obvious, that the adjustable cable was indeed longer. Not
by much, but maybe 1-3 inches or so, give or take. Now keep in mind, both
of these cables were brand new. I then slid each cable in and out of it's
sheath. Both slide in and out with extreme ease..none stiffer than the
other. I then loaned my OEM cable to my father, and swapped it into the
SSP. The difference was night and day. Not only was the pedal effort
EXTREMELY lighter, but the cable held, and is not stretching. So what did
I find out?? Well, that extra length on the adjustable cable is what is causing
all of the issues. If that adjustable cable was just a little shorter, it
would be fine. What is happening, is that there isn't any other way to
route the longer adjustable cable, other than OEM routing. It's not long enough to
re-route in a different manner. Since the longer adjustable cable is being
routed in a location suited for a shorter length cable, it is being bent in a
tighter radius, thus binding the cable in the sheath. Since the cable is
binding, it caused the heavier pedal pressure, and eventual stretching and
snapping of this cable. To conclude, from my experiences, the stock length
OEM cable will work best in the mustangs when routed through the stock location.
I do know that some companies offer a "longer" OEM "type" non-adjustable cable
and that these are designed for more of a universal application-to route away
from headers. I have never used these yet, so I can't comment on them.
My suggestion, is if you go with a longer cable, it'll be essential to route it
in a longer arc. If the cable isn't long enough for this, and you notice
increased pedal pressure, then you have cable bind. Take the cable off,
return it, and go back to OEM.
Aftermarket clutch quadrants and firewall adjusters
The main reason behind converting your mustang to a manually adjustable clutch setup is to be able to fine-tune your clutch adjustment to your driving preference, which is simply not possible with the factory setup. Another obvious reason is so that you don't break your $1500 Tremec, your $300 clutch, and so on. Removing the factory self adjusting setup and installing an aftermarket setup will save you a lot of time, hassle, and money in the future. I will link several pictures from different manufacturers to give you a visual of what an adjustable setup looks like, and also to aid in your decision making.
All aftermarket solutions to the ford OEM plastic quadrant, to the best of my knowledge consist of an aluminum quadrant with 1-3 hooks, and an adjustable cable, or a firewall adjuster, or both. Adjustment will be made at the firewall, instead of crawling under the car on your back If you don't buy the firewall adjuster, you'll have to get an adjustable cable and adjust it on your back under the car. (this is another reason not to own an adjustable cable).
My traditional favorite has been the UPR extreme firewall adjuster with the UPR triple hook quadrant. I've also used the FRPP single hook quadrant, which I've been extremely happy with, but I don't think it's available for purchase without the adjustable cable. UPR has a great price, and a great firewall adjuster. My brother recently bought the Maximum Motorsport kit for his mustang. We plan to swap out the UPR quadrant with the Maximum Motorsport quadrant. We are doing this simply to test different brands, as I've heard a LOT of good about the Maximum Motorsports setup. I'll post updates and pictures as soon as we get it installed. If you buy the UPR setup, do NOT use the third hook. (It's there to get around the Steeda double hook quadrant patent. The Steeda setup is another good brand to go with.) Recently I have been reading some complaints that many quadrants can cause cable binding and fraying issues. The general belief is that the location of the additional hooks causes the cable to hook at an awkward angle that can cause problems with the cable. Some also complain about aftermarket companies quadrants needing shims between the quadrant and clutch pedal peg backing. This "shimming" brings the quadrant more in line with the firewall adjuster to avoid rubbing issues on the sides. I've heard of rubber hose washers to steel washers being used. I can personally say that so far, in all of my install jobs using UPR/Steeda/FRPP pieces, I have yet to fray and snap a cable, or witness binding. (So long as your cable is routed properly.)
Maximum Motorsports claims to have a design that retains the original hook location on the quadrant to avoid cable fraying issues, and binding issues. They also claim to have designed the actual quadrant to fit better on the pegs, thus reducing problems. Maximum Motor sports design is a single hook quadrant. My only concern is running out of adjustment room. I called them personally and they stated that they have not heard of this happening. They also stated that their firewall adjuster is longer than many of the competitions adjusters and should provide plenty of adjustment room when combined with an OEM cable.
I have also heard quite a bit of good reviews about the Fortes setup, and the Pro Motion setup, although I cannot speak from experience personally. The information I have provided should give you the ammunition to research what you think will suit your application the best.
To Install and removal of old quadrant/pawl
Proper Clutch Cable Routing
If you have a problem with your clutch cable stretching, if your adjustment seems to "slip" every few days, or your clutch pedal is stiffer to press than 25 Honda pedals combined, you may have your clutch cable routed wrong. The goal to proper routing, is to have the widest possible loop. Some people route the cable above the motor mount, inside the engine compartment, to the clutch fork. This is wrong, this will result in all of the conditions listed above. For proper routing, route it under the k member, under the car. You can actually poke it through under the motor mount part of the k member, as shown in the picture, then run it along the bottom of the car to the clutch fork. Cable routing picture
FWA/Quadrant rubs against SN95 Brake Booster in a Fox,...the Fix
When my brother an I put an SN95 brake booster into his 88 notch, we were not able to dial out the firewall adjuster far enough without it smacking the bigger SN95 brake booster. This was a problem, and no one else told us to look out for this. For the meantime, the ten cent fix was to put a very large nut over the clutch cable sheath, so that the cable sheath stuck out just a little beyond the nut, then slide the remainder of the cable sheath into the firewall adjuster. In this manner, the nut was essentially sandwiched between the clutch cable, and the firewall adjuster. What this did for us, was to pull the cable away from the firewall adjuster about an inch or two extra. This gave us the clearance we needed to turn the firewall adjuster out, and not smack the brake booster.
In retrospect, I now understand
what happened. Different quadrants have different points in which they
grab the clutch cable. If you notice, in my shootout article below, the
Ford Racing quadrant has a VERY large radius, vs. the Maximum Motorsport, and
the Fiore quadrant, which have a small radius and grab point. The UPR
triple hook grabs the cable too close to the firewall. Unfortunately, the
third hook is way too tight, and won't work either. The solution is to get
a quadrant with a bigger radius, such as the MM piece, the Fiore piece, or the
Ford Racing piece. The Ford Racing piece has the biggest radius by
far. By personal experience, this quadrant, when mated with a firewall
adjuster had the screw turned out only a few turns, and was very close to the
firewall. If you go with this quadrant, I would suggest a firewall
adjuster with the inner locking ring, as that takes up space, and you want to be
able to dial this in more. I would suggest the Fiore quadrant for this, as
it has no locking ring. (it locks differently). I cannot speak from
experience if the MM, or other single hook quadrants will give you the room you
need. They certainly will bring the FWA in more than a UPR quadrant, but
by how much, I'm not sure, and our car that had the SN95 booster is not with us
any longer for further testing.
Different adjustments for different driving styles
After reading all of this, you still may be unsure of where exactly to position your clutch adjustment. This is where preference comes into play. Once you have learned to feel and know exactly when your clutch disengages, and when it engages, as I have explained, you will be able to adjust your clutch within this range, so that it feels best to you, but is within proper specs as to ensure long clutch and transmission life. On some quadrants, if you dial out all of the slack except for a half inch to inch, this may leave the clutch grabbing a little higher off the floor than what you like. If you don't like it grabbing so high, it's ok to loosen up the clutch adjustment. You'll have some play on the top, but that is ok, so long as you keep it tight enough to have a half to inch of movement upwards before it grabs when letting up on the clutch. That little bit of room at the bottom will ensure that your clutch is not adjusted too loosely.
A few final closing thoughts as to the different quadrant setups and how they effect your car
On my convertible, I am running a much older setup. I am using an FRPP single hook quadrant, Steeda firewall adjuster, and an OEM cable, 1986 issue with 186k miles and no problems. My brother has a similar car, also an 86 GT. He's also got the OEM cable with similar miles, but he's got the UPR triple hook quadrant and UPR firewall adjuster. Additionally, he's also got an 88 5.0 notchback Mustang with the identical UPR setup.
My clutch pedal physically sits only an inch higher than the brake pedal, has maybe ½ to inch worth of play at the top, and grabs within an inch or two of the floor. To contrast, my brothers clutch pedal in his 86 and 88 both sit easily two inches or more above the brake pedal in height. Additionally, he CANNOT dial all the slack out such as I've done without the clutch grabbing too high off the floor for our preference. We are trying to get to the bottom of this.
My opinion is that the second hook on the UPR quadrant rotates the clutch pedal up enough just to add maybe an inch or so of height above what a single quadrant setup would do. This extra inch, when adjusted properly will cause the clutch in return to grab higher than normal, which doesn't feel good. To counteract this, we've loosened up the adjustment on his UPR setup so that the clutch grabs within an inch or two of the floor, however, in return he's got what in my opinion is too much slop/play up top on the pedal.
A simple solution to this may be to purchase the Maximum Motorsports clutch pedal height adjuster. This kit will physically lower the clutch pedal, which, in theory when adjusted tighter should allow the clutch to pick up a little closer to the floor.
We are going to swap in the Maximum Motorsports quadrant to see if that effects clutch pedal height and clutch adjustment feel. When we do, I will update this article with pictures and comments.
For closing, I will mention that you really can't go wrong with an adjustable aftermarket setup, as any setup will be a vast improvement over stock.
Good luck, and please ask me any questions, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, as we have done this whole process quite a few times on quite a few Mustangs.
Aftermarket clutch quadrant and firewall adjuster shootout comparison
My very first adjustable clutch setup came from ford. It was (and still is) simply an aluminum quadrant with an adjustable clutch cable, no firewall adjuster. After using this setup for a while, I began to have stretching issues with the adjustable cable from that kit. It would snap, leaving me stranded. Problem was, at that point in time, internet message boards were very early, and I was not really into the internet yet (mid 90's). I found that the only way to buy this cable was from Ford, and they didn't sell it separately of the quadrant. Well, about 3 $100 clutch cable kits later, I finally found out something that would work better. I purchased an early non locking style firewall adjuster from Steeda, and threw the OEM cable back on. Problem solved, and no more adjusting my clutch on my back.
I have been extremely limited on my time do to a job change, and my family. I wanted to put this article up, although I will be adding some pictures, and I'll be going through the written part several more times for grammatical and punctuation errors. Keep posted.
My first true introduction to the Fiore quadrant and Micro-Click firewall adjuster came when Joe Fiorentino approached me with his product via email. I had seen his setup in advertisements before, but never had had the chance to actually evaluate one, or talk with someone who had. After a few conversations, Joe Fiorentino had a quadrant and firewall adjuster at my doorstep. It is important to mention that the adjuster I tested is the 1st generation design. Quote from Joe Fiorentino "The new adjuster I have available is different in that it has a smaller thumb-grip and 4 mounting holes instead of three. Cobra owners were complaining that the thumb-grip hit the valve cover when it was adjusted all the way out. The new adjuster still works the same and is only available in a clear anodized finish." I have included pictures of both the old and new style at the end of this article.
The quadrant consists of a machined one piece aluminum unit. On the front, it says Fiore. Machining on the quadrant looked great, with no blemishes, rough/sharp edges, or flaws. The quadrant looked nice and well thought out. The hook looked good, and had a good straight angle to it. The actual size of the quadrant in relationship to the hook position was great. The old quadrant that I pulled off to replace with the Fiore setup was a ford racing quadrant, which has been one of my favorite quadrants to date. It is important to note, that a huge difference in quadrants is the size of the quadrant, in relationship to how back, or forward the hook is placed. In the case of the Ford racing quadrant, the actual quadrant is much larger than the Fiore piece, causing the cable to grab much further back. This means, that it is a tight adjustment, with only a few turns of the firewall adjuster being needed. I think part of the reason for this, is that the Ford Racing quadrant was not designed to be used with a firewall adjuster. (The kit is only offered with an adjustable cable). This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. It can be handy to have the firewall adjuster in closer to the firewall, as I've had clearance issues with a firewall adjuster in a fox with an sn95 booster. (Described above in my adjustment article) Indeed, all manufacturers machine their pieces a little difference. In the case of UPR, they make a triple hook quadrant. Problem with this is the UPR middle hook (other two UPR hooks on that quadrant are useless) is too short, and the firewall adjuster has to be turned out too much, which causes the firewall adjuster to be threaded almost all the way to the end. (This interfered with our sn95 booster install on our fox, and the firewall adjuster actually hit the sn95 booster). Now, keep in mind, the two previously stated setups are very popular. All I'm doing is commenting on how they work in comparison to other setups, as, they both do work. As stated earlier, I liked the size of the Fiore quadrant. The hook position was great, and caused my firewall adjuster to be slightly less than halfway threaded out when adjusted properly, which is the way I like it. (Gives me plenty of adjustment room in either direction)
I must say, I was most impressed, however, with his firewall adjuster. This piece is truly the only one on the market like it. After have personally used a Steeda firewall adjuster, a UPR firewall adjuster, and the extreme UPR firewall adjuster, I found the FIORE firewall adjuster to be the most thought out, and the best design by far.
The bottom of this firewall adjuster has a flat plate, which fits against the firewall. When it has been secured with all mounting screws, this greatly reduces or eliminates firewall flex. While this feature is not specific to the Fiore FWA, his FWA does have a couple of very neat features. The biggest feature of this FWA is the micro click locking mechanism. Instead of the traditional FWA that has an inner and outer ring for locking purposes, the FIORE FWA works very differently. Upon examination, the threaded insert part of the firewall adjuster has a several grooves intersecting the threads, going vertically from front to back. The part of the firewall adjuster that is screwed into the firewall has a ball bearing in it, just at the point where you thread in the insert piece. When the two pieces are joined, and the turned, the threaded piece actually clicks into the ball bearing that is set into the FWA base. This ball bearing seats in the grooves of the FWA threads, hence locking it into place.
Perhaps even more ingenious, is the rolling sleeve inside the FWA. Unlike other FWA's, the Fiore unit has a sleeve inside the FWA. When you slide your cable into the FWA, it goes through this sleeve, which rolls. What this essentially does is remove the friction of the cable when you turn and adjust the FWA. (The clutch cable seats into the roller piece firmly, when the FWA is turned, the cable and roller stay stationary, and the FWA is free to spin freely without binding on the cable) Normal FWA's do not have this feature, and as a result, when you get tension on the cable from adjustment, the FWA tends to get very stiff and nearly impossible to turn. Since this unit has that rotating sleeve, adjustment is a breeze all the way out. Another benefit of this is that it can help ensure that pressure from your cable won't slip your clutch adjustment by catching on, and spinning the FWA loose.
Installation was straight forward. In this instance, I already had the factory plastic quadrant removed. The Fiore quadrant for my Fox mustang had the end narrowed to ease installation past the plate on the pedal assembly. (Common on most quadrants available) The quadrant slipped right on with ease. Plastic washers are also provided with this kit, should you need to space the quadrant out to line up with the firewall hole.
Installation of the FWA was also very simple. The flat side of the base goes against the lip on the firewall, and I simply used my cordless drill to screw in the initial screw, and to drill the other holes (bit provided) and thread in the corresponding screws. Worthy of noting, I did have some issues with fitting the clutch cable into the end of the FWA. While the rubber grommet and three tabs were all ready filed off of my cable from my previous FWA install, it still would not go into the hole of the new Fiore piece. The fix was quick, and extremely easy. I simply used a flat file on the plastic sheath end of my clutch cable, and with very minimal filing work, the cable slid in. I spoke with Joe Fiorentino on this, and he stated that it is a standard opening in the Micro-Click, and that my clearance issues could have been due to manufacturing tolerances in my clutch cable. Good enough for me, this was only a 2 minute delay anyhow.
Adjustment was a breeze, as described earlier. Test drive yielded a very smooth clutch pedal, and no problems whatsoever. Future adjustments are easier because of the lack of the inner firewall locking ring, and the friction that was relieved by that inner roller. I'm also confident that this FWA will either eliminate completely, or minimize slipping by a huge margin of the clutch adjustment. (I never had this problem with my old setup, but many others do)
From my dealings with Joe Fiorentino, he is a VERY standup guy. He is into the hobby, and loves his work and the product he puts out. I did have some suggestions, which he listened to eagerly and used that make improvements on the fox quadrant. This further showed me his commitment to his product and his customers. This experience with him made me very happy to find another product produced out of love for the hobby, rather than the money from the numbers, and I would not hesitate to recommend this to all of my friends and family.
It's also VERY important to realize that I have not been paid a dime to write this article. I am NOT selling his product; I do NOT get a cut from his sales, any kick-downs, etc. For this reason, this article is completely subjective, and my honest opinions about that product, NOT influenced by any outside sources. Everything written here is stated with 100% complete honesty.
In the near future, I'll be doing more product reviews, since I already have a lot of them lying around. I'll likely be writing on the UPR setup, ford racing setup, and the Maximum Motorsport setup. Any questions on this article can be addressed to email@example.com
The current Fiore Adjuster:
Links to quadrants and firewall adjusters:
Written by Jeremy Thompson, A.K.A v8only
|Copyright 2004 All images and Tech Articles are property of Jeremy and Corey Thompson|